Michelle Stafford’s role on Young and the Restless earned her two Emmy Awards and the reputation as the villainous Phyllis who would run over anyone to get what she wants.
And though the antics of her on-screen character are cringe-worthy, in real life, Stafford is a kind-hearted woman who took a very different approach in finding her happiness, including having children in what she called her “journey through hell.”
Since the beginning of her acting career, Michelle Stafford, 57, had a penchant for dizzying dramatic roles.
The former model started acting in 1990 in the short-lived soap opera Tribes, that followed the lives of teenagers and their parents. After small appearances in film and TV, the beautiful redhead was cast as Phyllis, a newcomer in Genoa City, the fictional home to the characters in the Young and the Restless.
The role of Phyllis was originally intended to be temporary but Stafford’s performance impressed production into developing the fierce Phyllis into a lead character, and in 1997, she won her first Daytime Emmy Award.
Speaking about her character and the reaction from fans, Stafford said, “A lot do say, ‘You’re exactly like Phyllis,’ which I don’t really take as a compliment. People have always been really nice to me. I feel like soap fans are literally the best fans in the world.”
From 1997 to 2000, Stafford left the Young and the Restless and had a minor role in the film Double Jeopardy (1999), and starring roles in the soap opera Pacific Palisades, along with several other roles in TV series, like Two Guys, a Girl and JAG.
But she couldn’t stay away for too long. Returning to Genoa City in 2000, Stafford added another Emmy to her mantel, and more depth to her character, Phyllis, who was left in a coma when she departed the show again in 2013.
“It was time,” Stafford said about leaving the famous soap. “But really, how much fun can one person have, I ask? I was actually on for 15 years, and it was such a great ride!”
She started producing her own web series, The Stafford Project (2013), that she described as “a comedy about a soap opera star named Michelle who got her own sperm and created her own baby and is trying to get her groove on.” She continued, “Her romantic life just falls apart in her face on every episode.”
The subject really resonated with Stafford, who in real life was looking for a boyfriend, and had opted to have a child on her own with the help of a sperm donor.
For many years, Stafford had been yearning for a baby, and unlike her character on the Young and the Restless, getting pregnant didn’t come easy.
“A little over six years ago I decided to adopt a child. It didn’t go so smoothly for me, so I then decided to just do it myself. I mean how hard could it be to get pregnant? Three IVF attempts and three surgeries later, my body was spent. I was exhausted. And by that point, my personality sucked,” Stafford writes as a celebrity blogger in People. “Finally, after what I call a ‘three-and-a-half-year journey through hell,’ I welcomed my amazing, healthy, biological daughter into the world via surrogate! How lucky was I that she was beautiful, calm and healthy?”
The Earth Fall star used surrogacy twice and welcomed her daughter Natalia in 2009, and son Jameson in 2015.
In the meantime, she rose from the dead in the soap opera General Hospital, launched a cruelty-free vegan skin care product called Skin Nation Beauty, and then in 2019 Phyllis woke from a coma.
Looking to offset her hectic schedule as a single mom and soap opera star, she started searching for a partner.
“I’ll be honest: It’s challenging doing it alone. Honestly, the first year practically all I remember is my distain for carrying that car seat around! It would have been nice to have a man to do that, but what the hell, my left arm is really toned now,” Stafford writes.
The star is not afraid to share her dating horror stories.
In January 2014, Stafford recalled a romantic weekend at a Palm Springs Spa, that was spoiled by a boyfriend when they both got food poisoning.
“He was such a baby that he thought he needed to go to the hospital, and I got up and had to take him to the hospital even though I was sick,” Stafford said, explaining his flair for drama. “‘I’m really scared!’ and the doctor was like, ‘You’re fine. What kind of (wimp) are you?’ It’s like, ‘I’ve been throwing up, too, dude.’ … It was horrific.”
Already having two real babies to care for, Stafford is still a single mom, but looking for her soulmate. Until her perfect man comes around, she’s happy being mom and dad to her kids who are growing up fast and look like their famous mom.
The doting, devoted mother frequently shares photos and videos of her and her children, and dog Rufus on Instagram and TikTok.
On Father’s Day, she posted a photo of her with Natalia, Jameson and Rufus, with the hilarious caption: “Since this last week my son asked me ‘what is my ball sack for?’ (His words not mine)…and then I had to tell him what is was for…I can legitimately get in on this holiday for myself and consider myself part of your tribe (for the day at least)… Happy Father’s Day to me! Happy Father’s Day to all of you wonderful men out there!”
Later, in September 2022, she celebrated National Daughter’s Day with Natalia, honoring her beautiful girl with a sweet photo of the pair at the beach.
She writes, “Celebrating #nationaldaughtersday with this super squishy one.” Fans jumped in with comments like, “Your mini Michelle just like U,” and “She’s a beautiful mini brunette version of you.”
A few days later, she honored her son with Instagram post dedicated to him. “Ok…missed #nationalsonday I mean…I gotta post cuz I posted about ‘daughter’s day’ and you know it will come back to haunt me in some way if I don’t give the son the same love…”
Fans chimed in saying, “He has a beautiful smile you must be very proud of him.” Another cyber citizen praised her talents. “Hi Michelle you have so much passion in everything you do which I find so admirable! I think you are THE best actress on the Y&R….the sass, the opinionated….you make us laugh! I’m always yeah go (Phyllis)! You seem like such a great person and mother….keep up the great work.”
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We love Michelle Stafford and are so happy that she found her beautiful family! Are you a fan of Michelle Stafford? What do you think of her character Phyllis on Young and the Restless?